This is an archive detailing what I believe a new sort of plague afflicting America, a plague of violence, ignorance, and fear. A poisonous narrative has taken root in popular American culture, a narrative that preaches it is okay to murder black men and women, regardless of whether or not they are armed and dangerous, as long as the murderer feels sufficiently threatened. This archive will catalog incident after incident of this insidious belief resulting in the death of one American citizen after another.
I have collected media coverage for each of the ‘high-profile’ racially charged cases we’ve been treated to for the past few years, and I will highlight how they’ve been spun, many of the victims being posthumously denigrated in a shallow attempt to justify their deaths. I’ve compared and contrasted the way black victims of media attention are treated compared to others, but I would hope that the archive will speak for itself, and that my voice will only add a bit of nuance to the overwhelming evidence of injustice that you, dear reader, will be treated to.
In this archive I have traced the beginning of this injustice coming to the national eye, to how even more examples of similar violence have sprouted up like weeds in recent history, but in the end I believe the goal of this archive is not to bring before you the horrors you’ve already seen and heard a million times before, freshly spun by your news station of choice, but to overwhelm you, to drown you in the reality of what African-Americans face every day of their lives, to realize the extent we must police ourselves, lest we end up black, unarmed corpses riddled with bullets, cut down in the name of self-defense.
There is, I believe, one single source of this violence, one core idea that allows people to continue to justify death after death of unarmed black men and women. It was an idea that Jefferson called ‘the veil’. Jefferson believed that black faces, dark as they were, were unreadable, and offered no insights into the thoughts and emotions of black people. To Jefferson, the intentions of black people were unknowable, and what people don’t know, they naturally fear. It is all too easy for authority figures and police officers today to say they don’t know, they don’t understand what their victim was doing, but he MIGHT have been violent.
Don’t take my word for it. Read the documents. Watch the excuses. Watch cop after cop say they feared for their life from people who had no way of harming them, or people who -could- have been harmful, but they ‘had no way of knowing at the time.’